Thailand’s coup leader has been given a royal endorsement to officially head the military junta that recently overthrew a civilian government.
“To restore peace and order in the country and for the sake of unity, the king appointed General Prayuth Chan-Ocha as head of the National Council of Peace and Order to run the country,” read a royal command issued on Monday.
General Prayuth made the announcement during a ceremony held inside the army headquarters in the capital, Bangkok.
The 86-year-old monarch of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, has not made a public statement on the coup yet, but his blessing is considered a key step in legitimizing military takeovers.
The general added that he will firmly enforce the law to improve Thailand’s political situation. “We hope that the problems will be solved soon so we can return to the right democratic system,” he said. The army chief also threatened to “intensify law enforcement” against anti-coup protesters, saying the demonstrators could be tried in military courts.
The warning came after dozens of demonstrators confronted lines of armed soldiers before and after a rally by over one thousand protesters through Bangkok.
On Thursday, the Thai army seized power, following seven months of anti-government protests and violence. The military has already taken into custody most of the officials of the previous government, dissolved the Senate and assumed its legislative powers.
The military intervention is the 19th actual or attempted coup in the Asian country since 1932.